The Ice Swan was a pleasant surprise for me. Fleeing from Russia following the revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky, her mother, and her sister attempt to seek refuge in Paris. They are not welcomed with open arms and are forced to go into hiding in the basement of a church. Svetlana is determined to help her family get back on their feet but, she runs into trouble everywhere she turns. And not only does she run into trouble, she also runs into surgeon Wynn MacCallen who seems to be her only saving grace in the dark and confusing world which has now exploded into World War I.
I loved the backdrop which The Ice Swan presented. There was intrigue and suspicion all over France. Svetlana and her family are wealthy but the only wealth that they have managed to obtain are the jewels sewn into their clothing. These jewels also cause them nothing but trouble and get them involved with some very dangerous people. Throughout all of this, there is such a continuous tension that had me turning pages. This tension continues when Svetlana and her family have to go to Scotland for their safety during WWI.
Svetlana and Wynn have multiple chance meetings before Svetlana agrees to let Wynn help her. There is a powerful dynamic between the two characters. They start out as strangers with the potential for so much more, especially once they wind up in a marriage of convenience. Svetlana is a character that embodies female strength and resistance while Wynn is a character that embodies a male empathy and a desire to help others. These characteristics work very well together and are not afraid to call each other out when the are wrong.
With Wynn being a surgeon, it gave an opportunity for a J’nell Ciesielski to weave in discussions on the advances in medicine that were occurring at the time. Like I said, Wynn always has a desire to help others and this sometimes results in him putting his career in danger with a risky procedure. This also impacts the dynamic between him, his family, and Svetlana.
The Ice Swan was a little uneven at first but once things evened out, I was hooked. This is a beautifully written historical fiction book. It was my first introduction to J’nell Ciesielski but, I do not think it will be my last. She is a very strong writer who made me get deeply lost in the world which she created.
Rating: 4 Stars
**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**